Earlier this year my creative partner Tambi Lane and I spent a few days in New York City. We had some foodie business to tend to but we also had a bit of free time for exploring and playing. Since it was her first trip to New York, there were some special places I wanted to take Tambi (like Central Park and the James Beard House) but I also wanted her to choose something she wanted to do there. She chose a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I’m so glad she did; it was an afternoon I will never forget, just as September 11, 2001 is a day burned into our memories.

Tambi’s 9/11 Story:

I had taken my oldest daughter to preschool that morning and already made my way back to the house across town. We lived in Fayetteville, NC, just off the Fort Bragg Army base. My husband at the time was in the 82nd Airborne Division and was already at work for the day. This particular day was a normal day so far; I was getting ready to take care of some daily chores, put the baby to bed for a nap and wait until it was a little later on the West coast to call my dad to wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

I had the TV on and was watching some program; I can’t for the life of me remember what it is now, but I remember flipping through the channels as the news started to flood each channel to see if I could find ANYTHING else on. I finally hand to land on a channel and try to process the footage in front of me.

I was very young, in my early 20s, and I really could not figure out what I was seeing – I was completely confused. I remember watching the second plane hit. It was about then that I realized the severity of what my eyes were taking in and I knew that it was time to call my parents.

We talked for a brief moment, processing together. My dad’s birthday has never been the same for him.

Shortly after, a dear friend, who also had a child in preschool with my daughter called. She was crying, asking me to get the kids if anything more happened, as she wouldn’t be able to get there quickly enough, and keep them with me until she could get to us. Town was chaotic and everyone was in a panic. Being near a military base with special forces, the rumors began to fly that we might be the next target. They closed down the post and many people were unable to get from one end of town to the other without hours of detour. To this day, you can no longer drive through Fort Bragg without Military ID.

That dear friend also had a friend at the Pentagon who she was desperately trying to reach. My

husband was not allowed to call home. In fact, he couldn’t come home that night either. The post and airfield were on lock-down. We were not allowed to know if they were deployed or still on the base until they were released. I was alone with both kids, and thousands of miles from home.

We never had to get the kids early from school, but everyone was glued to the TV the entire day. I don’t remember much more. My mother had a coworker whose son had missed his train that morning. Otherwise he would have been in the towers.

Visiting the 9-11 Memorial:

This was one of the things I was most looking forward to on our NYC trip. I knew it would be a sobering experience, but no matter how much you prepare yourself for it, you are never ready. Just before we left on the Subway to go to the Memorial, we met up with a friend of Donna’s who told us his personal story of 9-11, a story Donna had never heard. It put this whole experience so close to home.

The fountains outside of the building in the footprints of where the towers used to be are haunting. We were there on a cloudy day with light rain. You can walk all the way around and the names etched in the sides of the fountains of those lost are just endless.

As you enter the building you are met with old supports from the original buildings and audio of people remembering where they were that morning … stories from Ground Zero … and everything is dark. Images are flashed on the walls - some are horrible scenes from that morning. Looks of sheer terror. I fought tears with every step. As you walk further there are mangled pieces of building and wads of metal. It took us several moments to realize one of these used to be a fire truck. The majority of the museum is off-limits to cameras. It’s harrowing. You can see behind glass the store fronts still covered in ash, baby strollers left, covered in debris. There’s an entire room dedicated to those lost. You can type in a name and family members have left messages with stories of them. There are photos of each person lost that day. It is a beautiful tribute.

We could have spent many more hours there, and I hope to go again. It was exceptionally done.

It was quite an experience and one I am very grateful for having and sharing with Donna on her

birthday.

Donna’s Story:

Yes, we visited the 9/11 Memorial on my birthday, kind of a weird way to celebrate a birthday maybe but I was so moved by the experience that it felt like I was in the right place at the right time. It’s an incredible museum and memorial – like nothing I’ve ever seen or experienced before. Mesmerizing. Profound. Captivating.

Since 9/11 happened when it did – with media and technology as advanced as it already was – the sound and images captured ‘live’ while it was happening, and those same sounds and images presented the way they are in the museum, is astounding. You feel immersed and taken back … and yet it’s so tasteful and poignant. Tiny details have been captured and preserved. Like Tambi said we could have spent another entire day there soaking it all in. Needless to say, I was moved. Beyond words. If you ever get a chance to go, go.

In 2001, I was living clear across the country in Oregon. I got an early morning call to get to the radio station where I worked asap. I dragged my young kiddos out of bed and much to their chagrin, they had to eat their breakfast in the station conference room while me and my co-workers watched the second plane hit LIVE on TV.

When I think back to that day, it’s the little things that linger in my memories – how quiet it was at my son’s football practice later that afternoon with no planes in the sky overhead and typically talkative parents standing quietly watching the boys play. How every moment of that day seemed to expand as if holding its breath – waiting for another shoe to drop, another attack, another explosion. How I tried to find words to comfort my children and explain what had happened.

As time unfolded, I met many people who were directly or indirectly affected by that day. People who worked in Manhattan who were sequestered in their office buildings for hours/days. People who lost someone close in the attacks. People who knew other people who lost someone. The connections went on and on. I recently read a report that said over 400,000 people in New York alone are suffering PTSD from the terror of that day. And I can never quit thinking about the three thousand children who had to grow up missing a parent who died in the attacks.

So, on this 9/11, as we reflect and remember, maybe send out a prayer … for healing, for light, for love, for all.

xo dB

Updated: May 19

Stephanie O’Brien’s cancer diagnosis five years ago was, according to her, an awakening. Her response to her dis-ease (as she now refers to it) was immediate changes to how she was living her life. Those changes included what she ate, who she hung out with and how she moved through her days. She transformed … into living her life authentically and living with purpose. She learned so much and she now experiences MAGIC all around her! Her story is beautiful as well as inspiring and you can hear it for yourself in Episode 13 of the FoodLife podcast. Thanks for sharing Stephanie 😊

xo @donnabrittcooks

Avocado Toast with Kraut

Good quality sourdough or sprouted grain bread, toasted

Ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced or smashed

Arugula, spinach or kale

Raw sauerkraut

Chili or red pepper flakes, optional

Toast bread. Spread with sliced or smashed avocado. Garnish with the greens. Place some sauerkraut on top of greens. Sprinkle with chili or red pepper flakes if you want. EAT UP !!

Stephanie’s Favorite Veggie Bowl

** this is vegan + gluten free

1 cup of FORBIDDEN RICE (black rice)

2 teaspoons coconut oil

2 cups brussels sprouts (halved or quartered)

1 medium size sweet potato (diced)

Pinch of sea salt

1/4 cup chopped green onion

1/4 cup torn basil

1/4 cup torn mint

1 avocado, pitted + diced

1 Tablespoons black sesame seeds

Sriracha

Lime slices

Sauce

1 tablespoons tamari or amino acids

2 small garlic cloves

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon cane sugar (I use coconut sugar)

2 tablespoon water

1/4-1/2 tsp of chili flakes (to taste)

Cook the rice according the instructions. Keep warm.

MAKE THE SAUCE:

In a small bowl, whisk together the tamarind/amino acids, minced garlic, lime juice, rice vinegar, sugar, water + chilies. Set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the brussels sprouts + sweet potato along with a pinch of salt. Let sear 2-3 minutes. Toss and continue cooking for an additional 7-10 minutes, or until tender.

Remove from heat.

Serve the rice in bowl, top with the brussels sprouts, sweet potato. Drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with the green onion, basil, mint + black sesame seeds. Serve with sriracha + lime slices.

Enjoy!

Stephanie’s Daily Regimen:

  • Green juice

  • Mostly plant-based foods

  • Sencha Green Tea (anti-oxidant)

  • Adaptogens (healing herbs for stress/fatigue)

  • Essential oils

  • Yoga/Mindfulness/Meditation

Stephanie’s definition of LIVING IN THE MOMENT:

  • Not worrying about the future

  • Not hanging on to the past

What Stephanie learned from her cancer journey:

  • Surrendering … to be able to receive

  • Forgiveness

  • Acceptance

Recommended Reading/Links: Stephanie says she read these two books while going through her cancer treatments.

Kris Carr – Crazy Sexy Cancer

Louise Hay – You Can Heal Your Life

Updated: Apr 26

Ok, this episode all started when I found the small mustard seed pendant that my Granny gave me when I was a little girl. I’ve had this little charm tucked in a jewelry box for decades, moving it back and forth across the country several times yet somehow not losing it! I’ve never worn it, until now! In this episode I tell the story behind the gift from my grandmother and how it connects to a recent birthday gift from a best friend … and how that all leads to a Bible parable and a pickle recipe from Mother Maybelle Carter!! I hope you have as much fun listening as I do telling you this tale! xo @donnabrittcooks

MAYBELLE CARTER’S HOME-CANNED HALF-SOUR PICKLES from THE CASH & CARTER FAMILY COOKBOOK – Recipes and Recollections from Johnny & June’s Table

*Taken from The Cash and Carter Family Cookbook by John Carter Cash. Copyright © 2018 by Cash Cabin Enterprises, LLC. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com

Small to medium whole Kirby or other heirloom cucumbers, just enough to fill the jar (uniform size if possible)

4 tablespoons plus ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

2 quarts bottles spring water of another type of water with absolutely no chlorine

2 large bunches fresh dill

Garlic

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

½ tablespoon black peppercorns

3 to 6 oak, grape, or muscadine leaves of 2 tablespoons strawberry leaves

Half-gallon glass Mason or Bell jar

Glass fermentation weight

Cut just the tops of the cucumbers off. In a large bowl mix together the salt with the water and stir until dissolved. Add a third of the dill, garlic, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and peppercorns to the jar, plus half of the leaves. Then pack in the cucumbers to the halfway mark on the jar. (Packing the cucumbers can be an art; be careful not to bruise the crunchy vegetables in the process.) Add another third of the dill, garlic, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and peppercorns, and all but one of the leaves. Fill the jar with the remaining cucumbers, to within ½ inch of the top of the jar. Add the remaining dill, garlic, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and peppercorns, plus one final leaf. Pour the brine solution over the pickles, completely covering them.

Push the fermentation weight on top of the cucumbers, fully submerging them in the brine. (Using the glass wright ensures that none of the cucumbers are exposed to the air where they are vulnerable to bacteria.) Cover the jar with a breathable cloth, like cheesecloth, and secure with a rubber band. Let sit at room temperature for 4 to 5 days; the longer the fermentation, the less crispy the pickle. Once done fermenting, cover the jar with a metal lid, and refrigerate. These pickles can last for months in the fridge.

Makes ½ gallon.

HOW TO MOVE MOUNTAINS (or even HILLS):

  • BELIEVE … it’s possible (whatever IT is)

  • SEE … visualize yourself doing it

  • ACT … as if it’s already happening

  • TAKE … action toward your goal

Oprah says: “You become what you believe.” Read more in her new book THE PATH MADE CLEAR – Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If you have faith, even if it’s as tiny as a mustard seed, you can move mountains! Anything is possible.

“GETTING YOUR FAITH ON”

BE OK:

  • With moving out of your comfort zone

  • With not knowing what’s going to happen

  • With failure (which is really just an opportunity to learn)

Learn to trust yourself and surround yourself with people who support your ideas 😊

xo @donnabrittcooks

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BEHIND-THE-SCENES on The Cash and Carter Family Cookbook with Donna Britt & Tambi Lane

The original one room room cabin Johnny Cash built. The majority of the photographs were actually shot on this front porch. The light was magical.. it had a weathered presence that couldn't be matched.
Inside view of the #cashcabin recording studio and our location for the week
When all of your family photos laying around include Johnny & June...

Junes original fishing tackle box we used as "props" .... AMAZING!
The outside of the tackle box...just as she left it.

And a few more fun BTS photos from our time at the cabin.... There are so many more photos, but maybe those we'll share in another blog post!

Recommended Reading/Links:

THE CASH & CARTER FAMILY COOKBOOK – Recipes and Recollections from Johnny & June’s Table

THE PATH MADE CLEAR – Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose

Food Lover’s Companion

Cash Cabin Enterprises